MONTPELIER — Sometimes less is more.
The Vermont Mountaineers (12-7) were limited to a handful of hits in three straight games last weekend. Magically, they won each time.
“It’s electric,” Vermont standout Austin Gauthier said. “We’ve got pitchers who are very passionate and the energy is flowing the whole game. It just never stops.”
Pitcher Tyler Thorington scattered two hits over five-plus innings Friday, sparking a 3-1 victory over Ocean State. Corey DiLoreto (2-for-3), Kevin Brenning (double) and Connor Chirping were the only Mountaineers to record hits.
“Tyler pitched for me last summer in the Hampton League,” Mountaineers manager Charlie Barbieri said. “He was dominant there and he’s been pretty dominant here.”
Vermont was outhit 6-4 on Saturday but still walked away with a 4-3 victory over Winnipesaukee. Cam Climo contributed a double and two RBIs, while DiLoreto and Gauthier had singles. Vermont only managed three hits Sunday against Sanford but found a way to pull out a 4-1 victory. Evan Giordano clobbered a two-run double in the fourth inning, while Curtis Robison and Climo added singles.
“It’s just coming together as a team,” Gauthier said. “We’ve got a great group of guys, big competitors and we just want to win and bring the ‘Ship home to this city.”
Ten days ago the Mountaineers were a 3-7 team struggling to generate much offense. They stranded 15 runes during an early-season loss to Danbury and were recently shut out three times in a span of four games. Vermont’s offense reached its low point with a 1-0 loss to Upper Valley on June 21 despite outhitting the NightHawks 9-4.
“We got shut out in three out of four games at one point,” Barbieri said. “And it wasn’t that we weren’t necessarily getting on base — we were. We just weren’t cashing in with big two-out hits or runners-in-scoring-position hits. We just couldn’t find a way to get it done. Now it’s been a total 180 where any time a guy gets on second base, we’re hitting. So it’s been a big turnaround.”
An 11-1 victory over North Adams kicked off Vermont’s current nine-game winning streak. The Mountaineers beat Winnipesaukee three times in seven days, swept a doubleheader against Ocean State and took down Sanford twice. Monday’s victory over two-time defending NECBL champ Valley gave Vermont its ninth straight victory.
“Early on in that streak they weren’t very tight and we were kind of blowing some teams out,” Barbieri said. “But when you can win games when maybe you haven’t played your best, it’s the sign of a good team. And that’s baseball. In a long stretch of games, you’re not going to play well some days and you find a way to win. And that’s what we’ve been doing during the streak.”
Vermont boasts the No. 1 team pitching stats in the league with a combined ERA of 3.10. Upper Valley (3.51) ranks second and Valley (4.23) is a distant third.
“You can go through all of our starters — Alec Huertas, Ryan Murphy, Christian Scafidi, Enzo Stefanoni, Tyler, Sean Kealey — they’ve all been throwing really well for us and they’ve all given us really good efforts,” Barbieri said. “That allows us to stay in the game and win them.”
Huertas has a 0.52 ERA and is followed by Thorington (1.62), Scafidi (1.80), Murphy (2.50), Kealey (4.05) and Stefanoni (4.72).
”It’s a good sign when you’re not hitting all your strides, but you’re still winning games,” Barbieri said. “And I think the biggest strength for us has been our pitching.”
Mountaineers pitchers have recorded 143 strikeouts, issued 60 walks and allowed 11 home runs.
“When our hitting is not doing well, our pitching picks us up,” Vermont’s Matt McDermott said. “Our pitching has always been great. But when we hit and pitch at the same time, we’re pretty dangerous.”
Vermont’s offense ranks sixth out of 13 teams with a collective average of .269. The Mountaineers have belted two triples and six home runs. The league’s home run leaders are Keene (26) and Danbury (23).
Gauthier ranks ninth offensively in the NECBL with a .368 batting average after going 25-for-68. He has four doubles, one triple, 14 RBIs and 16 runs scored. Gauthier reached base 12 times on walks and has nine stolen bases for a team that is 34-for-39 on stolen base attempts. Vermont and Newport are tied for fourth in stolen bases, trailing Upper Valley (54), Ocean State (42) and Danbury (36).
”We’re finding a way to get on base,” Gauthier said. “Whatever it takes, grinding out at-bats, walks, knocks here or there.”
McDermott is batting .302 after going 13-for-43 with eight RBIs and 12 runs scored. He connected for two doubles and recorded six stolen bases.
“We’re all getting closer and we’re buying into our process,” McDermott said. “The coach is getting us all to really get together and we’re playing great baseball. We’re a tough team to beat right now.”
Climo has played in nine games and is batting .348 after going 8-for-23 with two doubles, a triple and a home run. He has six RBIs and five runs scored. Curtis Robison is batting .324 after going 12-for-37 with five doubles. He has scored six run while recording five RBIs and two stolen bases. Connor Charping (.289) has gone 11-for-38 at the plate with five RBIs and four runs scored. DiLoreto (.246) has gone 16-for-65 with three doubles and a team-leading two home runs.
”Austin Gauthier, as I last checked, was No. 1 in the league with hits,” Barbieri said. “And Corey DiLoreto was the RBI leader in the league. … Cam Climo was a late-season addition that’s added a new dimension with power in our lineup. You can literally go up and down with the 11-12 guys who have been playing and they’ve all made significant contributions. It’s not just one or two guys.”